Value of Vitamins Questioned in Recent Studies

Senior care shifts can be long and arduous. Taking care of others is hard work and sometimes comes at the expense of taking care of ourselves. Everyone would like to think that there is an easy path — a magic bullet — to self-care. I know I’ve said, “I don’t need to go to the gym, I move mom from her bed to her chair five times a day. I go up and down the stairs all day doing laundry.” But really, that’s no replacement for a good workout with weights and the elliptical.

It’s the same with nutrition. We assume that a good vitamin or supplement can take the place of a healthy diet. Our friends at Scrubs Magazine take a look at recent studies to see if relying on vitamins and supplements is a good idea.

With life and work always seeming to get more and more hectic, it can seem like an easy fix us to turn to multivitamins and supplements to help maintain proper nutrition. But a few new studies suggest that these may not be the best way to go.

In fact, the debate on the usefulness of multivitamins and other supplements has been ongoing for years, and there’s never been a definitive answer. One new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine makes its opinion clear:

“The message is simple: Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided,” said an editorial that accompanied the study, according to USA Today. This statement was signed by two researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a British researcher and one of the journal’s senior editors.

An unrelated study that was published in the same medical journal found that multivitamins taken by heart attack survivors had no effect on the progression of heart disease.

However, studies have also found no harm in standard multivitamins, either directly or indirectly (through causing those who take them to eat worse or otherwise neglect their health).

On a related note, an editorial in The New York Times warns of the risks of giving vitamins and supplements to children. The piece is written by Paul A. Offit, chief of the division of infectious disease at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Sarah Erush, clinical manager in the pharmacy department at the same hospital.

The two point out that dietary supplements are not regulated as drugs by the FDA, and therefore not all of the reactions of specific drugs may be known. Additionally, the authors of the editorial point out that this presents even more of a problem when parents don’t reveal all the supplements their children are taking when they bring them to the hospital.

Of course, there are many on the other side who still endorse the use of vitamins and supplements, and it is unclear if the real benefit and/or risks of every supplement will ever be known.

Caregiverlist wants to know: do you take vitamins and supplements? Do you believe they can take the place of, or at least work in conjunction with healthy eating? Do you sometimes rely too much upon them for your daily nutrition?

Do you eat the same healthy meal you might serve to your senior charge? Let us know in the comments. Do you want to learn more about eldercare nutrition and exercise? Consider purchasing Caregiverlist’s online caregiver training and certification to give you the tools you need to be the best senior caregiver you can be.

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